About the National Archives

Deputy Archivist’s Welcome for "Our Year of War: Two Brothers, Vietnam, and a Nation Divided"

Good afternoon. I’m Debra Wall, Deputy Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased to welcome you to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives for today’s program about the story of two brothers during the Vietnam War. In addition to those of you here in the theater, we have a wider audience on C-SPAN and YouTube, and I welcome you as well.

Before we hear from our guest speakers, I want to tell you about a few programs coming up here in the next few days.

We open our new exhibit “Remembering Vietnam” this Friday, November 10. That day we will also present three programs. Two authors will be here to talk about and sign their books, Six Years in the Hanoi Hilton and Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Story. Later in the afternoon, members of the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association will share their memories of their Vietnam experiences and tell us about the three Bell helicopters that are currently parked outside our building.

On Saturday, November 11, we will present three more programs related to the exhibit. First, Frances O’Roark Dowell will help us see Vietnam through the eyes of a child as she discusses her book, Shooting the Moon. Later in the afternoon, we’ll show the film We Were Soldiers. And in the evening, we will celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with a panel discussion that will include the founder of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Jan Scruggs.

To find out the exact schedule and to learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports our work, especially education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or online at archivesfoundation.org.

The “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit is a media-rich exploration of the Vietnam War. Along with historical analysis, it features interviews with American and Vietnamese veterans and civilians who had first-hand experience of the war. It is a fascinating collection of newly discovered and iconic original documents, images, film footage, and artifacts that illuminate 12 critical episodes in the war that divided the peoples of both the United States and Vietnam.

Many of those who have served in the military and gone through combat together refer to their comrades as “brothers.” Today we are privileged to hear from Vietnam veterans who were both comrades-in-arms and brothers, Chuck Hagel and Tom Hagel.

Both volunteered to go to Vietnam and fought in the same Army infantry unit.

In Our Year of War, Daniel Bolger recounts their journey from middle America to Vietnam at the height of the war and home again. As we observe the 50th anniversary of the war, we are privileged to hear from these two eyewitnesses.

Daniel P. Bolger served in the United States Army for 35 years, retiring as lieutenant general. He commanded troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq, earning five Bronze Star medals (one for valor) and the Combat Action Badge. He is a contributing editor for Army magazine and is the author of eight other books. He currently teaches history at North Carolina State University.

Chuck Hagel has long served our country. He was the Secretary of Defense from 2013 to 2015 and before that a U.S. Senator from his home state of Nebraska. During the Vietnam War, he served in combat as a sergeant in the U.S. Army and earned two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, he worked as a congressional staff assistant, co-founded Vanguard Cellular, served as the deputy head of the U.S. Veterans Administration, and became the President and Chief Executive Officer of the USO.  He is the author of America: Our Next Chapter.

Tom Hagel was born and raised in Nebraska. In combat, he earned three Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star (with “V” device for Valor), and the Combat Infantryman Badge.  He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska School of Law. After working as a public defender in Nebraska, he taught law at Temple University and then joined the University of Dayton, retiring as a full professor. In addition to his emeritus professor role, he serves as an acting judge for the municipal court in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author of two books and numerous articles on legal subjects.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Daniel Bolger, Chuck Hagel, and Tom Hagel.